Above The Law … Once Again!

Donald Trump claims to be above the law.  That is a matter of opinion, however since he has selectively placed his lackeys such as William Barr in key positions, for the moment, it seems to be the case that he cannot be held accountable.  The exception, of course, would be if Congress would use their Constitutional oversight authority, but with the likes of Mitchell McConnell in the position of Senate Majority Leader, that seems highly unlikely.  So, okay, Donald Trump is effectively, though not legally, above the law.

But Trump is not alone.  Attorney General William Barr has placed himself effectively, though not legally, above the law by refusing to answer a subpoena issued by the House of Representatives.  Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross claims immunity from the law, as he too refused to respond to a subpoena by the House.  How many others?  I’ve lost count.  But this latest one … this is too much.

Trump’s personal mouthpiece, Kellyanne Conway, has been found by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to be in violation of the Hatch Act.  The Office of Special Counsel is led by a Trump appointee, Henry J. Kerner, and it was he who testified before the House Oversight Panel last month that Kellyanne had violated the Hatch Act not just once, but repeatedly, and he called on Trump to terminate Ms. Conway’s employment.  Trump immediately refused to do so.

The Hatch Act, for those who may not be familiar with it, is a United States federal law whose main provision prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president, vice-president, and certain designated high-level officials, from engaging in some forms of political activity.

The counsel states that Conway participated in media interviews and used her social media accounts, with her title, to engage in activity affecting the midterm elections. She has also made a number of remarks aimed at 2020 democratic presidential candidates including Senator Cory Booker, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, and former Vice President Joe Biden. She has also openly endorsed Trump’s re-election. According to the letter by Mr. Kerner …

“Ms. Conway’s advocacy against the Democratic candidates and open endorsement of the President’s reelection effort during both official media appearances and on her Twitter account constitute prohibited political activity under the Hatch Act.”

Not once, not twice, but multiple times.  Remember when she almost got in trouble for urging people, on television, to buy from Ivanka Trump’s clothing line?  Kellyanne doesn’t seem to learn.  But then, she has Trump to bail her out, so why does she need to try to ‘do the right thing’?

Kellyanne was cordially invited to testify, to present her side if she had one, before the House Oversight Committee, but “the White House” declined the invitation on her behalf.  So, committee chairman Elijah Cummings issued a subpoena.  And guess what?  She defied the subpoena.  Therefore, we can only conclude that Kellyanne also considers herself to be above the law.

Now, here’s the thing, folks.  Trump said during his 2016 campaign that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York and shoot somebody, and he would get by with it.  When he said it, we all rolled our eyes and said, “Yeah, right, Bozo.”  But today, it is no laughing matter, for he has declared himself above the law and his lackeys, including the United States Department of Justice, will support him.  And now, that privilege extends to his entire staff, all the way down to his paid mouthpiece.

But let me tell you something.  If I stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York, or my street in Podunk USA and shoot someone, I will be immediately put to death by police who shoot first and ask questions later.  If I am issued a subpoena by a federal agency and I defy that subpoena, I will be shot dead by police who will claim I was resisting arrest (because I would be resisting, but that’s a minor detail).

If the likes of Trump and Conway are not held accountable to the very laws that they have sworn to uphold, then is there any law & justice in the United States?  Trump has stated that Article II of the United States Constitution gives him the authority to do “whatever I want”.  It doesn’t, but somebody has to draw the line.  Typically, that would fall to the Attorney General and Congress, but we cannot count on either.  So, if Kellyanne is immune, and William Barr is immune, then it must follow that any and all of Trump’s cabinet members are immune from being held accountable … for anything.

If that isn’t enough, coupled with Trump’s atrocious racist running commentary against four members of the House of Representatives for the past 48 hours on Twitter, and coupled with Robert Mueller’s citation of no less than ten incidences of obstruction of justice by Trump … if all that isn’t enough for the House of Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry, then I don’t know why we even have a Congress!  To the members of the House, I say:  Off your asses, folks … it’s showtime!  It’s now or never!  Use it or lose it!!!

And, to add a bit of humour to the topic, if that’s possible, I have invited Mr. Seth Meyers to contribute his take on the topic.

The House Is Afire!!!

Donald Trump … he claims to have made only one mistake during his 29 months in office.  Can you guess what it is?

Helsinki?  Charlottesville?  Family separations?  Nope, nope, and nope.

Failure to ‘drain the swamp’?  Nope.

Pulling out of the Paris climate accord and rolling back many important environmental regulations?  No way.

Triggering the longest government shutdown in U.S. history in a futile attempt to get funding for a border wall – or subsequently declaring a national emergency to divert money from the military?  Not a chance.

His quest to expel transgender service members who are willing to die in combat, his mockery of the #MeToo movement or his demonization of African American athletes?  Nay, nay, nay.

Throwing paper towels at Puerto Ricans, and then trying to minimize how much federal funding these U.S. citizens get to rebuild their devastated island?  Hardly.

Firing James Comey as FBI director, or the other nine cases of obstruction of justice outlined in Bob Mueller’s report?  Wrong again.

Trump says his only mistake was … wait for it … hiring Jeff Sessions to serve as U.S. Attorney General, because he hired him fully believing that Sessions would protect him by putting an end to the Russian investigation led by Special Counsel Bob Mueller.  When Sessions recused himself and thus could not protect Trump, he became Trump’s only mistake, at least in Trump’s mind.

When concerns were raised about the high turnover in Trump’s administration, he responded …

“Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be.”

sonny-perdue

Sonny Perdue

And it is in this context, the “my opinion is the only one that matters” monologue, that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under Trump appointee Sonny Perdue, has decided to bury the results of dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change.  WHY?  Because … climate change is damned inconvenient.  An example …

If a person is watching a really good television program (are there actually any “really good” ones these days?) and suddenly smells smoke, he has two choices:  go investigate, or ignore the odour.  If he ignores the odour, odds are that the house will be on fire before the next commercial break, but hey … don’t want to miss seeing the guy beat his wife, right?

The house is on fire, and our government, led by Bozo Trump, is in favour of ignoring it, for to acknowledge it means having to take action to try to put the fire out, and means missing out on the big love scene where thousands of people chant “lock her up” because they are so happy with Trump.

The studies that the USDA is refusing to make public, range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose diet consists mostly of rice — to a finding that climate change could exacerbate allergy seasons to a warning to farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important for raising cattle.  All have been peer-reviewed by scientists and cleared through the non-partisan Agricultural Research Service, one of the world’s leading sources of scientific information for farmers and consumers.

Researchers at the University of Washington had collaborated with scientists at USDA, as well as others in Japan, China and Australia, for more than two years to study how rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could affect rice — humanity’s most important crop. They found that it not only loses protein and minerals, but is also likely to lose key vitamins as plants adapt to a changing environment.

The study had undergone intensive review, addressing questions from academic peers and within USDA itself. But after having prepared an announcement of the findings, the department abruptly decided not to publicize the study and urged the University of Washington to hold back its own release on the findings, which two of their researchers had co-authored.

The person sitting in the burning house, watching television, is also admonishing the neighbors not to call the fire department and to simply pretend they don’t see or smell the smoke either!  Let the entire neighborhood burn down, but don’t arouse the man from his bloomin’ television show!

There is an election in less than 17 months that will, hopefully, remove not only Trump, but also most of his boot-lickers from office.  People need to be informed in order to make smart voting choices.  How can the public be well-informed if the government is withholding facts, simply because the facts don’t agree with what Trump wants???  I guess, if we are not to be told the facts, but rather only the falsehoods propagated by Trump & Co., then the best thing is to remember Trump’s own words …

“Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be.”

Is that really the person you want at the helm of this ship? Think about it.

He Sure Can Pick ‘Em …

I’ve frequently written about Trump’s staff picks, for they all seem to be the most un-qualified people for the jobs they are assigned.  I mean, he hired Scott Pruitt, a man who had sued the EPA numerous times, to head the EPA!  He chose Betsy DeVos, a woman who doesn’t believe in public schools, to head the Department of Education! It doesn’t get much more buffoonish, does it?  Anyway, I haven’t written about any of his recent staff pics, but since a couple of them are cluttering up my radar screen, it seems a good time to do so!


Mark Morgan …

Typically, we wouldn’t pay much attention to a new Director of Ice (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), but in the era of Trump, we pay attention to things we never needed to before.  And so it was that Trump’s latest staff pick, Mark Morgan, flew across my radar.  Well, truth be told, he rather flopped onto it like a dying bird.

Mark-Morgan

Mark Morgan

The thing that brought Morgan flopping onto my radar screen was his claim that he can look into the eyes of a child and know if that child will grow up to be a criminal.  Say WHAT???  In an interview with Fox News’ resident moron Tucker Carlson, Morgan said …

“I’ve been to detention facilities where I’ve walked up to these individuals that are so-called minors, 17 or under. I’ve looked at them and I’ve looked at their eyes, Tucker — and I’ve said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It’s unequivocal.”

Morgan likes to be on television … a lot.  In addition to at least three appearances on Tucker Carlson’s show, he has racked up more than 100 television appearances on other shows such as those of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.  He sure knows how to pick ‘em, yes?

Morgan was head of Border Patrol for the last four months of the Obama administration, but was almost immediately fired by Trump once he took office.  Perhaps solely on the basis that he had been hired by President Obama … we all know how jealous Trump is of anything with Obama’s name on it.  However, he has proven his worth to Trump by being a cheerleader for Trump’s ignominious border wall, and Fox News refers to Morgan as a former Obama administration official who “saw the light”.

Morgan has also applauded the administration’s policy for keeping immigrant children in cages, saying how wonderful it is that the cages were designed with the occupant’s safety in mind.  Seriously???

His nomination will have to be confirmed by the Senate, and that, believe it or not, is not a certainty.  Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado, both of whom will be up for re-election next year, are treading softly on the issue of immigration, as they have come under fire from their constituents over the abominably cruel policy of separating children from their parents at the border.  Other republicans in the Senate have also expressed concerns, such as Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.  Let us hope that at least 5 of the 54 republican senators find a bit of a conscience and refuse to confirm this animal.  Of course, it won’t matter, for Trump will no doubt find another who is just as unacceptable.


Steve Dickson …

And then there is the position of FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Administrator.  The purpose of the FAA in a nutshell is to regulate all aspects of civil aviation.  This includes airline safety.  Remember the Boeing crashes in recent months?

Steve-Dickson

Steve Dickson

For this crucial post, Trump has nominated Steve Dickson, a former Air Force fighter pilot who went on to become a commercial pilot for Delta, where he has worked for 27 years. Dickson retired as the company’s senior vice president for flight operations last year.  Okay, so he knows how to fly a plane, but frankly those ties to the airline industry seem a built-in conflict of interest to me.

Initially, Trump had planned to name his own personal pilot, an employee of Trump’s company, to head the FAA, but even senate republicans balked at that one.  So, last fall, Dickson stepped down from his position at Delta almost at the same time that Trump announced his decision to nominate him.

On the surface, there isn’t a lot to dislike, but … something is niggling at me.  Perhaps it is the fact that he just left Delta as a senior V.P. … it’s rather like having people in the interior department and the EPA with ties to the fossil fuel industry.  Inherent conflict of interest.

But perhaps the thing that is causing my antennae to twitch is that two days ago, Nicholas E. Calio, President and CEO of Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, sent a letter to Senators Roger Wicker and Maria Cantwell, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, calling for the quick approval of the nomination of Steve Dickson to serve as the next Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.  I tend to twitch these days when somebody calls for “quick approval” … remember Brett Kavanaugh?

I would urge caution and research on the part of the Senate, but of course he will be confirmed hands down, in all likelihood, and no doubt quickly.  The FAA dropped the ball on holding Boeing to the industry standards when they rolled out their 737 MAX fleet, and as a result, 346 people died in two crashes within a few months of each other.  The U.S. was the last country to ground the MAX 8 after the second crash, once again putting corporate profit ahead of human lives.  We need to ensure that whoever heads the FAA is independent of Trump and able to stand against industry pressure for profit.  I’m not so sure Steve Dickson is that man.


This administration is looking more and more like a circus every day, but do you notice anything?  Take a look at this picture … granted, some of these are gone and have since been replaced, but you can still see what I’m driving at in this picture, and then look at the statistics chart at the bottom.

Trump-cabinet.png

He’s got his ‘token black (male)’ in Ben Carson, but Ben is … well, let’s just say he is a poor representation of his race.  And a smattering of women, but not nearly representative of the population of women, and as far as DeVos, I’m not convinced that she is a woman at heart.  Oh yeah, folks, we definitely have a racist, misogynistic bigot in the White House, and he is surrounding himself with people who look just like him.  Think about that.

Snarky Snippets … Again … and Again … and Again 😱

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the rabbit hole … er … Filosofa’s Word.  Perhaps I should rename this blog “The Rabbit Hole”, what do you think?  Anyway, what better way to partly relieve the angst than just a few snarky snippets?


Outrageous!

It seems that politicians no longer care what they say, to whom or about whom they say it.  Do they really think that it’s impressive or funny when they thoughtlessly denigrate others?  And I’m not just talking about Trump, although he certainly is chief among them for horribly disgusting behaviour and language.Stephen MooreA few weeks ago, I wrote about Stephen Moore, one of Trump’s picks for the Federal Reserve Board.  What I did not know when I wrote that piece is some of Mr. Moore’s past misogynistic comments that have recently surfaced after an investigation by CNN.  Here are just a few (the comments in blue are Filosofa’s own snark)

  • When he found his wife had voted for a democrat in 2000, he said “Women are sooo malleable! No wonder there’s a gender gap.” (If we’re so ‘malleable’, jerkface, then how come you couldn’t convince her to vote your way?  Maybe she actually … has a brain and knows how to use it???)

  • “How outrageous is this? This year they allowed a woman ref a men’s NCAA game. Liberals celebrate this breakthrough as a triumph for gender equity. The NCAA has been touting this as example of how progressive they are. I see it as an obscenity. Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women?” (Oh yeah, Buster, you can go jump in that bloomin’ lake over there!)


  • “Here’s the rule change I propose: No more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer venders, no women anything.”  (Fine by me … try making your own coffee, your own bed, or your own kids, A$$hole!)


  • “What are the implications of a society in which women earn more than men? We don’t really know, but it could be disruptive to family stability. If men aren’t the breadwinners, will women regard them as economically expendable?”  (Your sort are certainly expendable, Bucko!)


  • “Well, we’ve probably gone too far in providing the safety net for the elderly. To a large extent, we’ve started a system in this country where we are taxing struggling middle-class families that are young to provide lavish government benefits for people over 65.” (Now wait just a minute here … did he say ‘lavish’? I can barely afford my insulin!  And why tax the ‘struggling young middle-class?  Why not try taxing that fat cat 1% rich bastards?)

As I noted in my other post about Mr. Moore, his wife finally and wisely divorced him, and then he failed to pay child support.  What a guy, eh?  And Trump wants him to sit on the Federal Reserve Board.  Go figure.  If the Senate confirms this one …


Steve King can relate?

Another Steve … you know what?  Trump seems to attract people with that name and they are all jerks!  Stephen Moore, Steve Mnuchin, Steven Miller …

steve-king-2Congressman Steve King … remember him?  He’s been on my radar numerous times, but back in March 2017 he earned Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award.    Since then, he has been called on the carpet more than once for bigoted, hate-filled remarks made in public, and was removed from his committee assignments by members of the House.  Well, somehow he’s gotten it into his head that it makes him rather like the biblical Jesus Christ …

“For all that I’ve been through and it seems even strange for me to say it but I’m at a certain peace. And it’s because of a lot of prayers for me. And when I had to step I have to step down to the floor of the House of Representatives and look up at those 400-and-some accusers — you know we just passed through Easter and Christ’s passion — and I have better insight into what He went through for us, partly because of that experience.”

Oh spare me. The interesting thing here is that even the unconscionable Mitch McConnell called Steve King out for his bigotry.  One of the best comments on the Idiot of the Week post two years ago came from my good friend Emily ..

“When they send people to Congress, they aren’t sending their best. They’re idiots, and numb-nuts, and some, I assume, are good people…”


Why?

We, the United States, no longer have a representative on the United Nations’ committee on racism.  Why?  We did have a representative on the committee, Gay McDougall.  But, she had at some point said things about Trump that he didn’t like, so when the State Department planned to re-nominate her, Trump nixed the idea.  And did he replace her with someone else?  No, he did not.  Why?  Because, as we have all heard, he has little or no respect for such international cooperatives, which is why he stupidly pulled us out of the Paris Accord, the Iran deal, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and is gradually pulling away from the United Nations.  According to one official …

“… it cements the narrative that the Americans just don’t care about these kinds of things anymore.”

Surprise.


Kirstjen-NielsenI’m certainly no fan of Kirstjen Nielsen, former Director of Homeland Security, but it appears she was at least trying to do one thing right, and that was assure election integrity, or at least an election free of Russian interference, next year.  Ms. Nielsen had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.

Concerned, Ms. Nielsen was trying to arrange a meeting with administration cabinet officials to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections, but she was warned off by White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney.  Why?  Because it might upset Donald Trump who does not wish to hear about the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections since it calls into question whether he would have been able to win on his own.

A) He did not win, for Hillary Clinton had almost 3 million more votes than he, and B) No, he couldn’t win a contest for dogcatcher on his own.

And so, Ms. Nielsen eventually gave up.  According to a document prepared by government intelligence agencies …

“Russia’s social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities and criticizing perceived anti-Russia politicians. Moscow may employ additional influence tool kits — such as spreading disinformation, conducting hack-and-leak operations or manipulating data — in a more targeted fashion to influence U.S. policy, actions and elections.”

Yet, we are to do nothing because it might make Little Donnie feel bad?  Bull!


I could go on … and on … and on.  In this era of Trump, the b.s. just keeps coming at warp speed.  I’ve been knocked off my feet a few times in the past week or two, and I’m sure it’s going to get worse before it gets better.  My means of surviving is to write about it and share it with you guys!  Isn’t that kind of me?  I believe it is only right to share everything!

Just Two Things …

On Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg …

rbgIf I had to pick a favourite among the current Supreme Court Justices, it would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The woman is intelligent, has spunk, and her heart is in the right place, unlike some others.  She has gone through a lot, but she bounces back.  Since her most recent bout with cancer, she has returned to the Court, heard oral arguments, authored opinions, and even made a few public appearances outside the courtroom.  But yet …

There are some who claim Justice Ginsburg has been dead for weeks, and that democrats … of course, it’s always the democrats … are covering up her death in order to keep the jackal in the Oval Office from nominating another one of his sycophants for the seat.  Say WHAT???  How can a person who is in the public eye, who goes to work every day and is seen by her co-workers and others, be believed to be dead?  What rock have these people slithered out from under?

According to The Hill

The Supreme Court has been bombarded with Twitter users demanding evidence that Ginsburg is still alive, while some online videos allege her public appearances have been manufactured.

There are also claims that audio of her from recent Supreme Court oral arguments has been doctored and is nothing more than phrases pieced together from earlier recordings of her remarks.

There’s little chance the Ginsburg conspiracy theory is going away anytime soon, experts say, mainly because the biggest proponents are unlikely to accept any proof that she’s alive.

I have a solution.  Invite them all to visit the court at a specified date and time, then let Justice Ginsburg go ‘round the room and poke each one of them in the eye with a stick.  Perhaps that will convince them.

It seems, though, that Donald Trump is hoping for Justice Ginsburg’s demise, for he has already decided on a nominee for her replacement:  Judge Amy Coney Barrett.  Barrett, not surprisingly, is known as a “superstar” among the religious right.

Barrett is young (46) and has vociferously made known her willingness to overturn Roe v Wade, which, along with Obergefell v Hodges seem to be the only thing the religious right cares about when it comes to the Supreme Court.  Take away women’s rights and take away the rights of the LGBT community, and Trump’s biggest fan base will be happy.

Personally, I hope that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stays healthy for at least another two years.


Not tough enough???

Kirstjen-Nielsen.jpgThe big news of the day is that Trump apparently forced the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.  Now, I’ve never liked Nielsen, always considered her to be rather a cold, heartless bitch, but apparently she wasn’t heartless enough to suit Trump, and that should concern us all.  It will likely thrill his base of white supremacists, however, who would like nothing better than to line the southern border with armed guards who are told to shoot first and ask questions later.

Bruce Plante Cartoon: DHS Secretary Kirstjen NielsenRumours abound, as they will when facts are not made available.  One, the most probable one, is that Trump is eager to reinstate his horrendous child-separation policy, taking children from their parents when they cross the southern border.  Ms. Nielsen rejected the plan, in light of the fact that a federal judge struck down the policy last year.

Another theory was proposed by Josh Campbell, the former FBI agent turned CNN national security analyst.  Mr. Campbell believes it possible that Ms. Nielsen was the author of the anonymous OpEd in the New York Times last year that caused such a stir.    The basis for his conclusion is stylistic similarities between Nielsen’s letter of resignation and the OpEd.  Not much to go on, but if she was the author of the OpEd, now that she has resigned from her position she has nothing to lose by coming clean, so … maybe?

I’m still stunned, though, that she wasn’t ‘tough enough’ to please Trump, even after she authorized the use of tear gas to repel a large crowd attempting to break through a border fence on New Year’s Day.  I’m also stunned that Trump has plans to defy Judge Dana Sabraw’s order and reinstate his cruel, inhumane child separation policy.

Are there no longer any restrictions or limitations on the power of the presidency?  Has Donald Trump, in fact, become the dictator he always wanted to be?  He shuts the government down in an attempt to get his way.  That doesn’t work, so he declares a state of national emergency to get his way.  That hasn’t worked yet, so he demands the resignation of the Secretary of Homeland Security to replace her with a man who is even more cruel and heartless.  Where does it end.  When do We the People finally say we have had ENOUGH???  Or do we keep burying our heads in the sand, believing that somehow, in some way, it will all work itself out.  Believing that our Constitution, or next year’s election will stop him.  Think about it.

Another Really, Really Rotten Choice …

Some days you have to ask yourself if somehow, in some way, you have slipped into a dystopian universe.  Up is down, inside is outside, big is little, and wrong has suddenly become right.  Point in case …

There are two vacancies on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Trump has nominated a man named Stephen Moore to fill one of those vacancies.  Now, before I get into Mr. Moore and his qualifications, or lack thereof, remember that the purpose of the Federal Reserve in a nutshell is to ensure a stable economy. *

Federal Reserve board members (there are seven, which includes the Chairman and Vice Chairman) serve a term of fourteen years, and are paid an annual salary of $179,700, with the two at the top receiving $199,700.  It is a position of high trust, controlling such things as interest rates, banking regulations, managing inflation and more. Stephen MooreNow on to Stephen Moore.  First off, he is a great supporter of “supply-side” or “trickle down” economics.  Sigh.  HOW MANY TIMES do we have to prove that it does not work??? I made this point back in September 2017 with my post It Trickles Up … Not Down! In fact, Trump has proven it himself by giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy, stating that the money they saved in taxes would ‘trickle down’ to the consumer, to the working class.  It didn’t.  It never has. It never will.  In a 2012 paper, Moore wrote …

“Cutting taxes can have a near immediate and permanent impact, which is why we have advised Oklahoma, Kansas and other states to cut their income tax rates if they want the most effective immediate and lasting boost to their states’ economies.”

But wait … there is more NOT to love about Stephen Moore.

For starters, just looking at his affiliations sends up red flags. He is a member of the Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal, owned by none other than the owner of state television network Fox News, Rupert Murdoch.  And Mr. Moore is the Chief Economist at the Heritage Foundation.  For those who may not be aware, the Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. and geared towards public policy. The foundation took a leading role in the conservative movement during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, whose policies were taken from Heritage’s policy study Mandate for Leadership. The foundation had a powerful say in the staffing of the Trump misfit administration, being largely responsible for the nominations of Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, and Jeff Sessions.

In 2011, Mr. Moore divorced his wife, Allison.  In 2013, he was found in contempt of court for failing to pay more than $330,000 in spousal support, child support, attorney’s fees and a one-time fee to his ex-wife.  Moore had failed to pay six consecutive months of child support — and only a small fraction of the nearly $19,000 a month he had agreed to pay his ex-wife in the divorce settlement. Moore failed to respond to repeated requests from the Virginia court to make payments and did not show up for a deposition in the case. The court ordered him to sell his home to raise money to pay the debt and forced him to set up an automatic bank transfer each month.  Ever hear the term “deadbeat dad”?  Moore is one.

Mr. Moore currently owes $75,000 in unpaid federal taxes, interest and penalties, according to court documents filed last year. A lien for $75,328.80 from the 2014 tax year was entered against Mr. Moore at the request of the federal government in January 2018.  What he owes in back taxes for a single year is more than most of us make in a single year!  And he is too sorry to pay the government, when we would be in jail if we fell behind by a tenth that much?

Now, here we have a man who cannot manage his own personal finances, and yet Trump would elevate him to one of the most important positions in the overall economic health of the nation???  You might think that Mr. Moore would hang his head in shame and walk away from the nomination, but think again.

Two days ago, he stated emphatically that he has no intention of stepping aside.  “It’s full speed ahead.” And Trump & Co have no intention of withdrawing the nomination, according to Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, who said both he and Trump continue to support Mr. Moore for the Fed’s board of governors.

“I think he’ll make a great governor. We are standing fully behind his candidacy.”

beating head in disgustJust as with Trump’s cabinet picks, this one is among the worst possible choices.  We have people leading the Departments of Energy, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who are climate change deniers and have ties to the fossil fuel industry.  We have a Secretary of Education who does not believe in public schools.  Then there’s Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, who is the subject of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit claiming he stole from a former partner.  And let us not forget Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), who claims that poverty is “a state of mind”.  I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Trump cabinet.pngSadly for our nation, Mr. Moore’s nomination, just like all those above, and like Brett Kavanaugh who now sits on the Supreme Court despite many disqualifications, will be confirmed by the republican-majority Senate.  And We the People have no voice in this.  Unless there are actually some republican senators who have a bit of decency left, a bit of honour and integrity, and the cojones to defy Trump, then this misfit, just like all those before him, will be confirmed.


*For an easy-to-understand summation of the Federal Reserve, I recommend this article, The Federal Reserve and What It Does 

Walking, Talking Conflict of Interest

David-BernhardtHis name is David Bernhardt, and he is Trump’s latest pick to head the Department of the Interior, since Ryan Zinke resigned last year in the spotlight of several ethics probes.  Zinke was bad enough … Bernhardt, if confirmed by the Senate, may well be worse.  Bernhardt has been serving as Deputy Secretary of the Interior since August 2017, and thus has been acting secretary since Zinke’s departure.

Where to even start?  This guy is, like so many of Trump’s other cabinet choices, the worst possible candidate for the job!  First, he is a former oil lobbyist, which sets up potential conflicts of interest in itself.  If confirmed, he will become one of two former fossil fuel lobbyists overseeing the nation’s top environmental agencies. The other is Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who heads the Environmental Protection Agency.  Between them, these two are in a position to cause much destruction to our environment.

As a partner in the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Bernhardt lobbied for the oil companies Cobalt International Energy and Samson Resources. His legal clients included the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which represents dozens of oil companies, and Halliburton Energy Services, the oil and gas extraction firm that was led by Dick Cheney before he became vice president to George W. Bush.

Thus far, while overseeing the Department of Interior, Bernhardt has …

  • Put forth a plan that opens up more land to oil and gas drilling than any other single policy action by the Trump administration, while at the same time stripping away protections from about nine million acres of wild life habitat.
  • Put forth a plan that would allow the federal government to lease almost any part of the United States coastline to oil and gas companies for offshore drilling.
  • During last year’s 35-day government shutdown, Bernhardt managed to obtain approval for 15 new leases for drilling on public lands as well as 71 new permits for offshore drilling. More than 50 recipients of the offshore drilling permits were companies that sit on the board of directors of the National Ocean Industries Association, a former client of Mr. Bernhardt’s. (Note that while his department is also responsible for conservation, maintaining national parks and permitting renewable energy programs, none of those functions were operative during the shutdown)
  • Intervened to block the release of a scientific report revealing the threat presented by three widely used pesticides to hundreds of endangered species (See New York Times investigative report). Bernhardt claims the NYT article is “not even close to true”, however I would disagree, knowing full well the integrity with which the Times do their research.
  • Has worked to loosen key provisions of the Endangered Species Act and to weaken safety and environmental rules on oil and gas drilling equipment.
  • Proposed a budget that would cut funding for the National Park Service by nearly $500 million, cut the budget for the Fish and Wildlife Service by $267 million, as well as cuts to other services including wildfire management (remember last year’s wildfires in California?)

Bernhardt’s confirmation hearing was held in the Senate on Thursday.  Predictably, he was praised by republican senators.

“David Bernhardt is an honest man who puts all his cards on the table and keeps his word. He is a champion of conservation. There is zero question that Mr. Bernhardt is qualified to do this job.” – Senator Cory Gardner, Colorado  (An “honest” man???  HAH!!!  Trump would never nominate an honest man!)

It should be noted that Senator Gardner has received $47,000 in campaign donations from Bernhardt’s former lobbying firm.

“I intend to move Mr. Bernhardt’s nomination as expeditiously as possible. He is ready for this job and has demonstrated he can handle everything it entails.” – Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska (How much money did you receive from Bernhardt’s former lobbying firm, Ms. Murkowski???)

However, the democrats in the senate were a bit more discriminating.  Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon mentioned Bernhardt’s blocking of the previously mentioned scientific report, saying …

“Mr. Bernhardt, you came to my office to tell me that you were the guy who stood up for ethics in the George W. Bush administration. You asked to come to my office to say your ethics are unimpeachable. But these documents make it look like you’re just another corrupt official. Why would you come to my office to lie to me about your ethics? Just like Julie MacDonald, you meddled in the science.”

Environmental groups are speaking out against Bernhardt’s confirmation as well.

David Bernhardt“Bernhardt got this nomination as a reward for months of work cramming America’s natural heritage into a wood chipper. He’s already done more damage to our environment than anyone else in Interior Department history. Confirming him as Interior secretary would be a boon to polluters and a colossal disaster for our public lands and endangered species.” – Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity

“With nearly two dozen former clients that have business before the agency, David Bernhardt is a walking conflict of interest who is uniquely unfit to serve as Interior Secretary.” – Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities.

Three Greenpeace activists donned ‘swamp monster’ masks as they sat in the audience at the hearings …

swamp-monster-1          swamp-monster-2

Perhaps Washington state Governor Jay Inslee said it best …

“Let’s not put big oil in charge of the Interior Department. Today’s Senate confirmation hearing shows that oil lobbyist David Bernhardt is dangerous to America’s public lands and waters and can’t be trusted to be our Interior Secretary. Big oil is literally laughing about the access they have to this administration. His answers today demonstrated his deep conflict of interest and his unwillingness to come clean about his record of mothballing an analysis of dangerous toxic chemicals. The Senate should reject this deeply flawed nomination and prevent this ethics nightmare.”

In the end, none of his conflicts of interest will matter to the republican-dominated, boot-licking, ass-kissing senate who are nearly certain to confirm Bernhardt, but it should matter to We the People, for we are the ones who will suffer from the destruction of our home, planet Earth.

The Top 50 Trumpaus From The Atlantic

The Atlantic has done a series that I found to be both comprehensive and interesting.  What they did was … well, I’ll let Jeff Goldberg, Editor in Chief tell you …

In an October 2016 editorial, The Atlantic wrote of Donald Trump: “He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar.” We argued that Trump “expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself.” Trump, we also noted, “is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”

In retrospect, we may be guilty of understatement.

There was a hope, in the bewildering days following the 2016 election, that the office would temper the man—that Trump, in short, would change.

He has not changed.

This week marks the midway point of Trump’s term. Like many Americans, we sometimes find the velocity of chaos unmanageable. We find it hard to believe, for example, that we are engaged in a serious debate about whether the president of the United States is a Russian-intelligence asset. So we decided to pause for a moment and analyze 50 of the most improbable, norm-bending, and destructive incidents of this presidency to date.

Our 2016 editorial was a repudiation of Donald Trump’s character as much as it was an endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. It was not meant to be partisan. The Atlantic’s founders promised their readers that we would be “of no party or clique.” This remains a core governing principle of the magazine today. What follows is a catalog of incidents, ranked—highly subjectively!—according to both their outlandishness and their importance. In most any previous presidency, Democratic or Republican, each moment on this list would have been unthinkable.

There are 50 articles in the series, and while I have not read them all, the ones I have read are spot-on.  I list them here, with links, so you can decide which, if any, you would like to read.  Click on any title to go directly to it … all links will open in a separate tab:

  1. Children are taken from their parents and incarcerated
  2. “Very fine people on both sides”
  3. The president still hasn’t released his tax returns
  4. Putin and Trump talk without chaperones
  5. James Comey is fired
  6. Trump declares war on black athletes
  7. Trump picks the wrong countries for his travel ban
  8. The president calls his porn-star ex-paramour “horseface”
  9. Covfefe
  10. “I have the absolute right to pardon myself”
  11. Trump throws paper towels at Puerto Ricans
  12. A new term enters the presidential lexicon: “shithole countries”
  13. Trump mocks Christine Blasey Ford to a cheering crowd
  14. You know you’re in a constitutional crisis when…
  15. The CIA dead become a TV prop
  16. Public humiliation comes for everyone in the White House
  17. Trump threatens to press his “nuclear button”
  18. The president lies constantly
  19. The president learns about the Justice Department
  20. The president learns about separation of powers
  21. Rain stops Trump from honoring the dead
  22. The UN General Assembly laughs at the president
  23. America gets a first daughter
  24. The president can’t stop talking about carnage
  25. “We’re gonna have the cleanest air”
  26. Trump helps the Saudis cover up a murder
  27. Turkish agents assault protesters near the White House
  28. Trump tweets the wisdom of Mussolini
  29. The president tries to kick transgender service members out of the military
  30. The buck stops over there
  31. The White House punishes a CNN reporter for asking questions
  32. Trump disseminates Soviet propaganda
  33. The chief justice of the United States corrects the president
  34. Trump leads the country to the longest government shutdown in American history
  35. Mueller’s “witch hunt” is good at finding witches
  36. Trump threatens to strip security clearances from his critics
  37. The president just wants to go home
  38. Trump holds a top secret confab on the Mar-a-Lago dining terrace
  39. A White House economist creates facts for the president
  40. The president’s most trusted adviser is his own gut
  41. Trump waits 19 months to pick his science adviser
  42. The first president to complain about an election he won
  43. The nation loses its consoler in chief
  44. The WikiLeaks president goes silent
  45. A name-calling feud ends with the secretary of state’s ouster by tweet
  46. Trump tells the Boy Scouts about a hot New York party
  47. An overcompensating press secretary lies about crowd size
  48. The president praises the congressman who body-slammed a reporter
  49. A Cabinet officer likes private planes too much
  50. Donald Trump touches the magic orb

Au Revoir, General James Mattis 😢

Yesterday, the world became a little less safe.  U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, announced his resignation effective 28 February 2019.  It is understandable, and nobody could possibly blame him, for his has been a thankless job since the day he took office, January 20th 2017.  Mattis has disagreed with Trump on many things during his nearly two-year tenure, from climate change to Russia to pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.  But the straw that broke the camel’s back was Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the remaining 2,200 U.S. troops from Syria.  I don’t blame General Mattis for finally saying, “I’ve had enough of this mess” … don’t blame him at all.  But with his departure, the world … not just the U.S., but the entire world … became less safe.

Here are some of the more pertinent parts from the General’s letter of resignation:

  • I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.

  • One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.


  • My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.


  • We must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America.

The threat of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria and also Afghanistan is a disaster on so many levels, not the least of which being that it is a proverbial slap-in-the-face to our allies in Europe.  As the UK’s Middle East minister, Alistair Burt said …

“There are no vacuums in foreign policy, certainly not in the Middle East. In a fragile region every action is a catalyst for another. If allies cannot be relied upon, others are sought to take their place. Jim Mattis understood – vital any successor agrees.”

And UK’s Defense Minister, Tobias Ellwood …

“The most impressive military mind I’ve had the honour to know. Jim my friend – our world will be less safe without you.”

The co-chair of the European council on foreign relations Carl Bildt had strong words …

“A morning of alarm in Europe. Sec Def Mattis is the remaining strong bond across the Atlantic in the Trump administration. All the others are fragile at best or broken at worst.”

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group in the European parliament, said…

“A victory for Russia, Iran, Turkey, Turkish proxies & the Syrian regime. Unsurprisingly, it leaves Europeans more vulnerable – and shows how wrong it is that we do not have a defence force able to help stabilise our immediate neighbourhood.”

Neither the Syrian withdrawal nor the prospect of cutting troop numbers in Afghanistan were preceded by any serious consultation with his European allies, many of whom either have ground troops or air forces operating in both countries.

Trump’s selection of Mattis for Defense Secretary was, presumably, because he believed Mattis had the knowledge and experience to be a key advisor on foreign policy and matters of defense.  So why does he consistently ignore the advice of this very knowledgeable man?  Ego, pure and simple.  And that very ego is likely, if left unchecked, to have a number of very serious consequences for the world.  The Middle East is a tinderbox that could well turn into an inferno in short order.  Our allies may well determine they are finished with this alliance and to hell with the U.S.  Who could blame them?

It is said that Trump made the decision to pull out of Syria after a phone conversation with Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, who is planning an attack on Kurdish troops in Syria at some point in the near future.  According to Senator Lindsey Graham …

“What Turkey is going to do is unleash holy hell on the Kurds. In the eyes of Turkey, they’re more of a threat than ISIS. So this decision is a disaster.”

Vladimir Putin was also pleased, saying he agreed with the decision.  But, of course.

Even most conservatives are horrified at the thought of Mattis’ resignation, considering it to be the loss of the last adult in the house.  Neo-conservative editor and political analyst Bill Kristol said it best …

“Never been more alarmed for the nation since coming to DC over three decades ago.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse expressed deep concern …

“This is a sad day. General Mattis was giving advice [Trump] needs to hear. Mattis rightly believes that Russia & China are adversaries. Isolationism is a weak strategy that will harm Americans.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan weighed in …

“Okay, Republicans. How much longer are you going to let this farcical ‘presidency’ continue? At a time of such political, economic, and geo-strategic turbulence – both nationally and globally – are you waiting for a catastrophe to happen before acting? Disaster looms!”

Remember when then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to Trump as a “f**king moron”?  He was right.

General Mattis’ departure did not come as a surprise, for the rumour mill has predicted it for a while now but make no mistake … it is a devastating blow, not only for the United States, but for the world.  Nobody can predict where we go from here, for there is a thoroughly unpredictable madman at the helm of this ship.  In light of Trump’s comment this morning that he is willing to keep the government shut down “for a very long time”, and his reckless decisions regarding Syria and Afghanistan, today I can no longer consider myself a citizen of what was once a respectable nation.  I believe it is time for serious calls for Trump’s removal from office, else next year at this time the world may look much different than it does today – and not in any good way.

Au Revoir, General Mattis … you will be missed.

On Draining the ‘Swamp’ …

swamp-1Remember back in 2015-2016, that long, ugly, disgusting, tiresome campaign Trump conducted?  Yeah, who could forget, right, especially since he doesn’t seem to realize that the 2016 election has ended and the campaign is over, so he keeps holding more and more of his really crappy rallies where he still has his minions chanting “Lock her up!”, even though they have forgotten who it was he wanted locked up.  One of the many things that he spent that year-and-a-half (have I mentioned that it was a very looooooong year-and-a-half?) shoving down people’s throats was how he was going to “drain the swamp”, a euphemism for getting rid of corruption in the federal government.  Well, we now know, thanks to Kellyanne Conway, that Trump uses a different dictionary, a different vocabulary than we do, called ‘alternative facts’, and that by ‘drain the swamp’, what he really meant was he was planning to bring in much more lethal, corrupt, greedy, criminal gators ‘n crocs.

One of my favourite comedians, John Oliver, has applied his own special brand of humour to the notion of Trump ‘draining the swamp’, and it is worth a watch … both educational and humorous …

Thank you, John!swamp-4